Six Requests for Praying Dads

Jesus' prayer in John 17 is not your typical Father's Day Bible passage. It's a prayer of Jesus for himself, his disciples, and all believers as he approached his crucifixion. Following my last post about praying women, let's turn to men.

In this amazing prayer of our Lord Jesus, I see a model. Following the verbs and Jesus' direct requests of the Heavenly Father, here are six requests every Christ following father can pray for his family.

Request #1: May my family Glorify God

Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You.—John 17:1 

Start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start. Start with God. Every one of your prayers should begin with an acknowledgement of God such as, "Father in Heaven" or "Dear God," and even the content of your prayer for your family starts with God. "God, would you grant that I and my family could bring you glory in everything we do." And name some ways. Offer specifics.

Request #2: May my family Grow in Knowledge

This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent — Jesus Christ.—John 17:3

This idea of knowing God is constant and continuous. You are praying your children and family members will establish and continually grow in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Your prayer is that they would abound more and more in the love of Jesus that transforms them. Talk to them Model for them. Teach them.

Request #3: May my family Guard the Faith

I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one.—John 17:11

This a prayer of protection. What kind of protection? Our clue is in the end of the veres where Jesus prays "so that they may be one." In my experience it not so much the offense of others—we're all sinners and people will hurt me—but my own attitudes in reaction to others that brings division. My unforgiveness, if unconfessed, will grow into bitterness and worse. Pray humility and grace for your family; protection from their own attitudes that may divide and hinder their faith and others. Be humble. Be forgiving.

Request #4: May my family Get Set Apart 

Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.—John 17:17

Be holy as I am holy, God calls. This is a request that our families would be sanctified, holy, set apart. This is a tough one in the media rich, time crunched, privacy invasive world we live in, but it is totally possible. Turn off the TV. Put down the electronic device or magazine. And read your Bible. Pray that your family members, especially your kids, will learn a life-long habit of Bible engagement. And model it. It will change their life. And yours.

Request #5: May my family Gather Together 

I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.—John 17:23

This is a prayer that we would be closer to God and closer to one another. It's about unity. It's rooted in the requests that precede it. Being completely one with folks so different than us seems like such an impossibility until you have felt it in worship, in service, and in fellowship with one another. And there is a bonus: The world will know Jesus through our love for one another. Spend the time. Give your life. Gather together. Love one another.

Request #6: May my family Gain Eternity

Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation.—John 17:24

To be where Jesus is—that's Heaven. Jesus has gone to prepare a place there for all who have committed their lives to him to be with him forever. That's our hope. That's our goal. But we've got work to do in serving him and loving others while we are here. As he prays above—and you know his words are faithful and true—the love of our families and Christ followers for one another will lead others to trust him too.

So, Dad, I know you got tons to pray about. Don't mean to add too much. I pray these requests serve as inspiration for you to pray like Jesus. Glorify, grow, guard, get, gather, and gain. For your family. For the Lord.

Be a Praying Dad!

Kindergarten Last

We crossed a line today.

One of those “our kids are growing up too fast” lines. 

Our youngest, the Lovable Linebacker, went to Kindergarten.

Yes, I know it is inevitable. They grow up. They go to school. It happens. And please don’t give me that “he’ll be graduating high school before you know it” line. I know it it. But don’t rush things!

Let him be a kindergartner.

Let me be a Daddy mourning the loss of pre-school children.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want my kids to stay young forever. I marvel at their growth in knowledge, in experience, in character, in worldview. Their minds, wit, spirit, and heart challenge me, humble me and entertain me. I am so blessed to be a steward of three precious souls. Even more blessed to share this stewardship with an amazing WonderWoman wife. But. I don’t want them to grow up too soon.

I want to take every day as a gift. Love them where they are at. Adapt to each unique personality. Adjust to the challenges along the way. Learning to parent at each stage of development from babyhood to childhood and into adolescence. 

I’m a Daddy. With three incredible children. And I treasure them.

Oh, and one more thing: My eldest started Middle School today too. Eesh.

Kindergarten last. Middle School first. Love always.

Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him. 1 John 3:18-19, ESV

Knew Neither

Have you ever been overcome by a Scripture? A Scripture so inspiring or so convicting that it just stops you right in your tracks? 

That was my experience in daily Bible reading recently. We read God’s Word to know God, His purposes, and His ways. We read God’s Word to learn. We read God’s Word to be surprised too. A daily Bible reading plan, like those through YouVersion on your smartphone or computer, keeps you in the Word and allows God to speak. Even when you don’t expect it. 

So, there I was. Minding my own business. Reading through Judges. And chapter 2 verse 10 overcomes me. It jumped up, grabbed me, sat me down and started my mind racing. 

“After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10 NIV

Oh, no! That's the genertation of Joshua and the conquest of the Promised Land. That generation saw God do amazing acts and benefited from His gracious blessing.

What went wrong? Did they never tell their kids what God had done in their lives? Didn’t they seek to introduce their kids to a personal relationship with God? This younger generation didn’t know the God who calls them His own because of the shortcomings of their parents. What a tragedy!

It got even tougher as I thought about me. And you. And our generation. How am I doing? How are you doing? As parents, we love our kids. As Christ followers, we love all children. We want children to know God more intimately than we do. Thats our hope. But is it our prayer? Is it our practice?

We can not make children or young adults follow Jesus. But we can show them the way.  

We can love them through their challenging and changing years toward maturity.

We can pray for them all along the way. Every day. Or even moment by moment. Like breathing.

And we can teach them. Teach them with the Bible. Tell them with our words. Show them by our example.

Let it not be said that our children knew neither God or His great works.

Teach them. Tell them. That they might know.

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Mowing Lessons

My oldest. A son. Near 11 years old. Motivated by money. With dreams of countless Lego sets. That change every day. Wanted to earn more money.

Mow the lawn. His Mama says. But you gotta get Daddy to teach you. 

So. We’ve had mowing lessons. While mowing. He’s learning lawn mowing. I’m learning patience. There is so much more to learn. 

Four weeks now. And at least four lessons.

First week, he missed a spot. He quit. Discouraged. As if he’d failed. It’s not the end of the world. Definitely not the end of mowing. Go back. Do it again.

Next week, he couldn’t go around a tree. Again he quit. It’s just a tree. Go around. You can’t let an obstacle overcome you. You overcome the obstacle. Find a way. Go around.

Third week, he didn’t feel like mowing. He wouldn’t even come outside. The grass doesn’t care if you feel like it. Or not. It just grows. You cut it. Feeling it or not. Cut it.

Fourth week, he did good. No complaints. Listening to instruction. Then with just a small patch left. He quit. He was tired. But you gotta job to do. Tired is not done. Done is done.

Mow on, My Friends.

Live on.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

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"What To" Truths for Parents

You love a good “how to” article, don’t you Mom and Dad?  You really want to know how to do this Christian parenting thing.  In your honest moments, like all of us, you would confess feelings of inadequacy, fears, worries, and even failures.  If parenting as a Christ follower was easy, then we would not need Christ.  Jesus makes up the difference when we fall short.  And God's Word guides us when we don't know where to turn next.

As a Christ following parent you probably know of Deuteronomy 6:4-7.  It provides a “how to” model for us.  It says, “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.  Repeat them to your children.  Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up

You heard it in a sermon.   You read it in a magazine.  You spent some time thinking about it.  You considered teachable moments.  You live it when you remember it.  You may have it memorized.   You may be practicing it.

And you may have stopped right there.

Right there in Deuteronomy chapter six, I mean.  Be honest.  You lose interest right from the whole "binding them on your hands and forehead" part.  Interesting fashion accessories those would be.  And you are a bit concerned with "writing them on your door-posts and gates" too.  I mean, what reputable decorating magazine would recommend that?

So, you stop with verse seven.  And that is not a bad place to stop.  Not bad at all.  If you can love God with all you have got.  If you can keep His Word in your heart.  If you can pass that sort of honest-to-goodness faith to your kids.  Wow!  You are doing great!  So, what's the fuss?

Well, no fuss.  Just a call to look further.

You have the “how to” above.  How about a model for the “what to”?

Practicing good biblical hermeneutics, we read the context.  The chapters and verses before and after the a given passage.  In the case of Deuteronomy Six, just as clearly as the “how-to” of teachable moments in verse 4-7, we see a template for the “what-to” in verses 20-25.  Let’s take a look: 

20 “When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. 22 Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his household, 23 but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. 24 The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. 25 Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’ 

“When your son asks,” states verse 20.  Not if.  God made us in His image.  Creative and inquisitive.  Our children ask and experiment to learn.  What truths about God should we teach them.

There are four “what to” teach topics in Deuteronomy 6:21-24:

  • Experiences with God. Verse 21 teaches that you should be ready to share stories of lives impacted by an intersection with God.  Scripture stories.  Your own stories.  The stories of others you know.  We must “always be ready” to speak of the hope within us commands 1 Peter 3:15.  These stories should illustrate the greatness of God to meet our needs.
  • Judgment of God.  Verse 22 shows that God is just and will judge sin.  This is essential truth. In order to call Christ our Lord and be saved, we must first recognize our own, personal sinfulness as in Romans 6:23.  Sometimes, these are conversations in the midst of administering discipline.  More importantly, like Moses in Deuteronomy, these are conversations during the good times to set boundaries as warnings to the consequences of judgment during the rebellion that will come.
  • Purposes of God.  Verse 23 points to God’s leadership in all circumstances.  When our own faith is challenged we must rely upon the sovereignty of God in all of life.  Good or bad.  Anything that touches our lives has either been caused or allowed to work His good purpose within us we learn throughout Deuteronomy and from Philippians 2:13.
  • Obedience to God.  Verse 24 is clear that God’s Word is not for our convenience, but our obedience.  And that obedience leads to the blessings only God can provide.  John 14:21 teaches that our obedience is a love issue.  If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem.  We must make sure we know God’s Word.  And obey it.  And teach our children to follow us as we follow the Lord.

And what will be the hallmark of the life following God as these verses teach?  Righteousness.  A state of right being and living that can only be fully powered by God’s Holy Spirit and can only be fully reward by God’s amazing graciousness.  Stories.  Boundaries.  Sovereignty.  Obedience.  These four foundational teachings are the “what to” truths we build our children’s lives on.  Now stop reading and go parent with these truths in mind, Christ follower.